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Category Archives: Business

Realistic Business Goals

Some of the goals you may set for yourself and your business may involve how much money you’ll earn as the owner and how much money your company will make every year. You’ll also want to set the number of hours you will work each week and how many hours should be spent uninterrupted with your family. You’ll also want to forecast how many employees you’ll have, the number of customers you’ll do business with in your first years and the speed at which your company can comfortably grow. It will also be nice to set your age when you will retire to your very own island.

Writing your goals on paper actually helps you reach these goals. Once they are written down, you can always refer to them on a regular basis to help you keep track of your own program or change them as the situation calls for it. It also helps your staff stay focused on the truly important things for your company. As you begin your life as a businessman, writing down your goals becomes a top priority.

As you start setting goals, you will have to be as specific as possible. A lot of people simply want “a decent living”, but this is too vague. Instead, write down the exact amount you want to take in profits from your first and second years in business. The more specific you are, the easier it will become to design a plan that reaches these goals. For example, you can plan several ways to earn $50,000. You can now calculate the number of customers you will need to buy from you as well is how many employees you’ll need to hire to make the number of products you need to sell.

But what does it mean if you don’t meet the goal? That will depend on how much you’re off. If you exceed your goals, congratulate yourself. If you are a little behind profits before tax, then at least you still took home some money and you are doing something on the right path. Check your goals, set the next ones and move on. However, if after a year you’re in more debt than when you started out, it may be time to reassess your goals or even consider going back to your day job.

Many people start with a goal that is realistic and then they work backwards. They develop smaller goals along the way that helps them reach their target. It always helps to keep your feet on the ground. Be as realistic as possible when you set your business goals – write down the exact amounts in terms of profits, taxes, salaries and perks to get a near-accurate picture of what you’re dealing with. Be as optimistic as you can or you might get discouraged if you don’t reach most of your goals. It is always safer to set goals that you can win.

 

Myths of Drop Shipping

# Drop shipping means big money for little work

Running a business is a lot of work! Sure drop shipping saves you from warehousing, inventorying, and packaging and shipping items. But in the end, you’ve still got a retail business to run. Furthermore, profit margins are thinner because the drop ship supplier takes on much of the risk involved with warehousing the products.

# All drop shippers will be happy and willing to work with me

Some drop shippers will work with anybody. Those drop shippers will typically have a fee associated with them, or else their wholesale price is not as good. Other drop shippers have minimum requirements. For example, you may be expected to have several thousand orders per month.

Some drop shippers will even charge you a non-refundable application fee. If they decide you’re not big enough to work with them, you lose your application fee.

Of the more than 50 suppliers Doba works with, several have application fees, a few have monthly fees, and several more only agreed to drop ship for us because we promised them high volume, something we can do thanks to the combined purchasing power of our membership. Fortunately, Doba does not pass along any application or monthly fees, and you never have minimum requirements.

# It’s impossible to make money with drop shippers

It is true that your profit margins will be thinner, but some of the internet’s largest retailers use drop shippers exclusively as their product suppliers. If they weren’t making money, then they wouldn’t be some of the largest retailers on the internet.

Something that new entrepreneurs often fail to understand is that pricing is only one small part of business. If your focus is exclusively on price, then your business will never succeed because you’ll be completely ignoring the many other parts of business that are required to succeed.

I once sold a product in a very competitive market. The product had an average 10-15% return rate, and the mean price was $19.95. I sold my product for $33 and had a return rate of 5%. My website also had a conversion rate about 2-3 times that of my competitors.

Why was I able to sell my product for 65% more than my competitors, maintain a higher conversion rate, and yet still experience far fewer returns? Very simply, I chose to focus on all aspects of my business, rather than just one or two like so many of my competitors were doing.

# Drop shipping is the magic solution

Drop shipping is a specific service that fills a specific need. It is not a cure-all solution for business. Before jumping in, you should be sure that your business will benefit from drop shipping, and you should have a well laid out plan for making that happen.

 

Things to Look for in Your Business Credit Card Application

* Be cautious. It’s easy to get carried away with all the package benefits that are available. Keep in mind that this process is first and foremost about credit. As such, you only want those additional benefits that best serve your particular needs. For instance, if you rarely fly in the course of doing business, a credit card that awards you frequent flyer points doesn’t really serve you.

* Search for payment flexibility. Primarily, you’ll want to find a credit card with a “grace period” that works to to the advantage of your business. A “grace period” is the allowable time you have before the credit card company begins to charge you interest on new purchases. This period, when part of your benefits, often runs 20 to 25 days. Be aware, though, that grace periods are not the same for all credit cards. Most credit card companies will charge you interest immediately for new purchases unless you’ve paid off your previous month’s balance in full.

* Ask for the lowest interest rate available. Often, just by asking you can receive a lower rate. By keeping the interest rate low, you enable your business to use its funds more wisely on its immediate needs.

* Understand what extra benefits come as part of the credit card package, if you need the extra benefits or not, and if they come with hidden expenses. For instance, some cards come with free credit card supplements for employees. Benefits such as this can vary dramatically from one small business credit card to another, and so can the cost.

 

Tips to Protect Small Businesses

Firstly, realize that business is business. You have something which someone wants. You have stock, business products, equipment, or cash. This is the start of protecting your assets. And this applies equally wherever your office is located. Even if you have a home office, make sure you have a door which locks. Monitor who is allowed in, and when. Be aware of who has been in there and always keep cash or valuables under lock and key.

There is no denying this is annoying, but would you rather take the time to lock that drawer, or lose the cash? A friend employed a maid, who was recommended by another friend. The girl was apparently from a good family, hard worker, etc. After two weeks of arriving late, doing a sloppy job, my friend noticed three thousand euros in cash was missing from her (unlocked) home office desk drawer. Not a pleasant feeling. And of course, impossible to prove.

It is easy to be too trusting. And if you are responsible for taking on part time or full time help, you will want to trust them. You will have a hard time accepting the fact that a trusted employee is stealing money, time, equipment or products. It has been estimated that in the USA one third of all employees steal from their employers. The prevalence in underdeveloped areas and countries is probably much higher. Think about installing a simple closed circuit television system when you are not there. If you make it public to your employees, it will act as a deterrent. It is a way to still have your eyes and ears open, even when you are not there. The prices of this kind of surveillance equipment are coming down all the time.

You have probably invested a substantial amount of cash in business equipment. Take the time to make sure that it is all marked with a security marker pen. Pay particular attention to small removable items, like laptop computers, calculators, fax machines.

Be aware that locks only slow down a thief. They don’t keep them out. Quality locks with substantial deadbolts will help. Pay attention to adequate lighting. Remember that thieves don’t like light, noise, dogs or anything which draws attention to the area in which they are trying to operate.

Take great care with your business keys. Have a key register and keep a record of who has what keys, the dates they were given out, and by whom. Before you use your key register, ensure that you have noted how many of each key there is. Don’t label them with addresses or specific information as to where they unlock. Instead, use a code only you know. Such as, O1, O2 – meaning office keys number one and two. Then if they are lost, and found by someone unscrupulous, the key will not lead them to your door.

New businesses tend to be more trusting of accepting checks because they are trying to build the business and want to attract customers. Crooks realize this. They thrive in these situations. Establish a firm procedure with which you are comfortable and believe is equable, then no matter what, stick with it. One exception to the rule may cost you dearly.

So no matter how busy you are, take some time to implement just some of these protection ideas. In the long run, you know it makes sense.

 

Advantages of Starting a Cleaning Business

* A successful cleaning business can easily be started by one person who does everything from billing to marketing to the actual cleaning. You can start the business part-time and keep a full-time job until the business grows and can support your lifestyle.

* You’ll provide the cleaning services at the client’s building, so more than likely clients will never go to your “place of business”. Therefore, you can easily run a commercial cleaning business out of your home. A spare room or garage can hold your supplies and equipment, and you can use a spare bedroom or small corner of any room to do your paperwork. Working out of your home saves the cost of leasing or owning a building and you can write off part of your home mortgage and utilities as business expenses.

* You can start a cleaning business with only a small investment in supplies and equipment. As your business grows and you offer more services such as carpet cleaning or stripping floors, you can buy or lease equipment.

* When just starting out you will probably do most, if not all, of the work by yourself. If you need employees you can work with a temporary employment agency and avoid the challenging tasks of payroll and paying employment taxes, social security, unemployment, and worker’s compensation.

* A cleaning business can start out as a sole proprietorship, which is the easiest and cheapest way to set up a business entity. As the business grows you can consider changing the structure to a corporation or limited liability corporation, which may require an attorney and an investment of several hundred dollars.

What steps are needed to not only start a cleaning business, but to make sure that it is a successful cleaning business?

* Begin by writing a business plan. This does not have to be a long document, but a three-to five page document that you prepare to help you focus and decide the basic parameters of your cleaning business. Include the following in your business plan: business name, location, geographic area you will serve, competition, business structure, marketing plan, accounting procedures and a cash flow spreadsheet. Remember, a business plan is to help get you focused – it is not a hard and fast document that outlines the day-to-day operations of how you will run your cleaning business.

* After deciding on a business name and business structure, it is important to decide on a particular “niche” for your cleaning business. Do you want to clean small office buildings, large office buildings, medical clinics, banks, new construction or government buildings? It is much easier to start with one particular niche and focus your marketing efforts on a select group, rather than spreading yourself too thin.

* When just starting out your cleaning business you can easily operate on a shoestring marketing budget. Avoid the expensive and often ineffective newspaper and radio ads. Market your cleaning services through networking (especially through your local chamber), cold calling (in-person and by telephone), talking to property managers, and watching for new buildings going up in your area.

* Once you decide to start a cleaning business, develop a relationship with a janitorial supplies distributor. Although it may seem like buying supplies through a distributor is more expensive than buying through a “big box retail store”, there are many advantages in working with a distributor.

A distributor can teach you how to use supplies and equipment properly, which will save your cleaning business time and money. A distributor has knowledge of new products and can let you know when a cheaper product works just as well as a more expensive item. Through a distributor you will be able to buy concentrated and more effective cleaning chemicals. Knowing what chemicals to use and how to use them can directly affect your bottom line. This is advice you cannot get from a big box store! And besides giving advice and training, a janitorial supplies distributor may have leads and referrals that can lead to profitable cleaning accounts.

* Another important person to find right at the start of your cleaning business is an accountant. A good accountant does much more than figure out your taxes at the end of the year. He or she will provide financial advice and guidance throughout the year and help you make important financial decisions such as when to buy or lease a piece of equipment or whether you should rent office space. This will help to save you money.

Hard work, dedication and attention to detail will keep your cleaning business going. Taking the time to make plans for your cleaning business will help to ensure that your cleaning business is successful!

 

Tips for Minimizing Backorders with Your Drop Ship Business

Monitor Quantities on Hand (QOH)

The most obvious thing you can do to protect yourself from backorders is to closely monitor quantities. Doba provides a data export tool that can help you monitor supplier inventories. If you are able, monitor quantity trends before listing an item in an auction.

If selling items at an online auction, you’ll typically want to only list items that have a large number of items in stock. However, if you have monitored quantities before hand and notice a product isn’t “flying off the shelves”, you may be comfortable selling items that have a lower number of items in stock.

Run Shorter Auctions

I once listed an item on eBay that had only one item left in stock. Even though I knew the item to be a slow moving item, listing something with a quantity of just one had me a little worried.

As such, I decided to run a three day auction. The faster the auction got over with, the sooner I could drop ship the item to my customer, and the less I would have to worry about it. I wasn’t concerned about losing potential business from having a shorter auction because listings typically get the most views and bids in the last 24 hours anyway.

Cancel the Auction if the QOH Reaches Zero

Along with monitoring QOH’s before listing an item, you’ll want to continue monitoring quantities throughout the auction. If you notice quantities dropping each day, you’ll want to keep an even closer eye on it.

You can’t drop ship an item that isn’t there. If the quantity ever reaches zero, go into your auction right away and end it early.

Drop Ship an Item to Yourself to “Pad” your Inventory

Shipping a few items to yourself to pad your inventory is perhaps the most effective fail-safe to prevent backorders from having a negative impact. This is particularly advisable for items that are regular sellers for you.

Usually, you’ll only need to keep one or two items in your personal inventory, even if you typically have several auctions with the same item running simultaneously.

If an item goes out of stock, you’ll always have the one or two items on hand that you can ship out and still have time to go through and end all your other auctions early until the item comes back into stock.

 

Starting T-shirt Business Advice

Advice for Designing

When designing A T-Shirt, there are many points to keep in mind, but the following factors are some technical stuff overlooked by companies starting off: The Number of colors used and what material will be used. Most screen printers charge in the $10-$40 range for every different color you use. It can get really expensive for someone (Example: music bands) to get several T-Shirts printed. They then have to sell the fans $36 dollar T-Shirts just to cover the costs and make some profit.

The Material used

Usually each material/brand/size comes with a set of colors that they’re printed on. There isn’t one that provides you with every single color in existence. It would be a great idea to ask the client what material they can afford and then research it, or familiarize yourself with the more popular brands that are being printed on (Examples: American Apparel, Fruit Of the Loom and Hanes). I’ve had several problems with this when I began, so don’t just go creating something that only looks good on a red background that you can’t easily fix, or something that looks good on a T-Shirt color that’s almost impossible to find. This will save you so much time and trouble.

Lastly, but most importantly, just be original. Keep the designs more personalized, deeper and more meaningful.

1. Vision. You need to know who you are, what you’re doing, why, etc. This will define how you market your product, how it looks over all, and all the little details within that you need to do. Yep, so figure that out and then go nuts because you can’t go wrong with a big idea, as long as you know what the big idea is.

2. Marketing. It’s essential in today’s design world. You might have a good product but if its weak on branding, labeling, packaging, shelf appeal, matching coat hangers, etc., it’ll look bad. Consistency also needs to be achieved across the spectrum including same font, same style, etc. Designing is totally open to new creations and ideas, so anything goes, but there are some boundaries that you don’t want to cross, while others you need to break through.

3. E-commerce. Yes, it’s fully possible! It will take some setting up though, but I’ve recently realized how I can just pick up the phone and order a set of hoodies, wait four days until they’re on the doorstep, pay for them a month later online, etc. Also, I can call up the fabric company down the road, or one in wellington, get them to send me samples of denim, call them back and order a set amount of denim to be sent to my garment manufacturer, and then call him and tell him how many of what I want right from my rocking chair at home.

4. Online selling. Totally possible if you use ebay or know how to set up an E-commerce website yourself, but getting the credit card system sorted out is a major cost. Lots of girls shop online now, you just need to know how to market it right and get your products noticed.

5. Promo. Get it out there! Make sure your friends buy your products or you could give out freebies. Put stickers, advertising your shop, wherever you can. Be shameless because designers are really admired (as opposed to being a ‘salesperson’), especially if your product is favorable.

6. Don’t waste your time on silly details. I’ll let you figure out what those are.

7. Get your accounts sorted out now. Segregate your personal and business spending, so you can claim back GST with no problems. Make sure every transaction (sales, purchasing, spending, etc.) goes through your account, so you can see how well you’re doing by looking at your bank statement. Use the ATM machine for petty cash; your accountant will love you one day for this.

8. Have fun! It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t work out. I was just thinking how involved my life is at the moment with my T-Shirt business. My life revolves around it, which is crazy, but if it all fell apart and closed down tomorrow I’d be the same person and I’d find something else to do! I make sure I take one day off during the week to do what I love that doesn’t involve my work. I love doing my work, so I’m very lucky in that aspect, but sometimes it gets boring or tedious so I make sure I stay fresh and focused.

9. Work hard. I still do after three years. I work my butt off and hardly make any money off it, but I know it’s worth it in the long run and the things you learn along the way are invaluable.

10. Give away free stuff! People love free T-Shirts and sponsorship goes a long way. It’s also your duty, being in business and generating wealth, to share that with society in some way (Example: Old stock goes in recycle clothing bins, etc.).

 

Business Success Tips

Success = Startup Business Person + Product/Service + Market

Let us look at this formula in a little more detail. Firstly, what is success? The definition of success depends on what you want to get out of the venture, that is, what your goals are. Business success usually means creating a viable entity (business) that returns its investment and earns a profit.

Appropriate and realistic goals include to be challenged, to achieve, and to build something good. For example, your definition of success could be to earn $100,000 a year from your home business so that you can replace your full time job income.

The most crucial element of the above formula is the “Startup Business Person”. This element decides all the others.

Ultimately, a successful startup business person is someone who opens, manages and runs a successful startup business and can repeat the process. This is someone who has accepted the responsibility and learned how the job is done.

Successful startup business people usually always start small and grow the business. They do not have too many irons in the fire at once so that their efforts are not diffused. They give it everything they have and believe that hard work counts. They try repeatedly until they achieve the success they are looking for. Moreover, most of all, they possess a positive mental attitude.

They have learned to emulate success. Do you know what emulate means? To emulate means to attempt to equal or surpass. In other words, if you were to attempt to emulate someone else’s success, you would imitate them and as you gained further knowledge and skill, you would attempt to do better than them. Remember that emulation takes things one step further than imitate.

The next part of the formula is “Product/Service”. Without something to sell, there can be no business. Generally, the product or service needs to be of a high quality. It also needs to be something that people are prepared to pay for.

The last component of the formula is “Market”. A successful business person knows who their market is and how to reach it in the most cost effective manner. The market is defined as the people who want and are prepared to pay for the product or service.

I would now like to run through with you what I consider are the basic principles of home, small or online business success.

Believe in Your Product or Service

First, you need to believe in your product or service. If you do not believe in it, you will have a great deal of difficulty selling your product or service to other people. You also need to have confidence in your ability to provide and promote your product or service. An old saying sums this up best: “All things are possible to he who believes”.

Aptitude for the Business

Secondly, you need to have an aptitude for the business. You will also need the motivation to acquire at the very least basic skills and experience before you start your business. If you were to set yourself up as a home electrician but did not have any skills or training in this area, then you will almost certainly fail. However, if you are employed as a bookkeeper and you enjoy the job, then setting up your own bookkeeping service would be a sensible choice with a greater chance of success.

Be Responsible

Thirdly, you need to be responsible to your customers. This is achieved by only making commitments you can keep and by not engaging in misleading or dishonest advertising. If you want to build long term success in your home business, then you need to develop long term satisfied customers. When their needs are being satisfied, customers are at their happiest.

Aim for High Quality

The next principle is that you need to have a high quality product or service. This will be your best advertisement. Inferior quality products usually generate poor customer satisfaction. A dissatisfied customer can be very dangerous for your business. Usually they tell on average about fourteen other people who will then be disinclined to buy your product or service based on the experience of that one dissatisfied person. Therefore, always aim for a top quality product or service.

Make a Profit

However, it is not enough to have a top quality product or service. You also need to have a product or service that will generate enough income to cover all your business expenses and give you a satisfactory wage. A friend of mine once said that business is only about two things: satisfying customers and making a profit. A simple statement but very true.

Sufficient Startup Capital

You also need to have access to enough cash to set up and run your business, and enough income to meet your private expenses during the startup phase. A major problem with many home and small businesses is that they fail to have enough money available to ensure their success. There is nothing more discouraging than having a great idea, getting it started on a shoestring, not being able to expand due to cash shortages and seeing a competitor come along and steal your market.

Start Small

Another fundamental principle of home business success is that you start small. This will enable you to minimize your overheads until you are confident of your success in the marketplace. For many of you, this would mean starting part-time while retaining your full-time income source. When you can, expand your business into a full-time venture. This is a great way of minimizing the risk of failure.

Be Well Organized

Successful home businesses are well organized. They have a system for keeping track of expenditure and earnings. This level of organization in your business will help to ensure that you are providing your customers or clients with a top quality product or service. It will also ensure that you have enough information available to maximize your profitability and to satisfy your legal requirements for record keeping.

Be Prepared

Preparation is another important ingredient in your business success. This preparation will include being aware of the regulations and laws affecting small, home or online business in your area or country. Armed with this knowledge, you should not have any nasty surprises from unintentional violations of the law.

Have a Business Plan

Finally, successful home businesses have developed a comprehensive business plan. This is their road map to success. It tells them where they are going and how they are going to get there. It is very useful for comparing actual performance against what you planned and enabling you to make adjustments to lead to greater success. There are many useful software packages available to assist you with your business plan preparation.

 

Translation Business Myths

Native speakers are generally held to be indisputable authorities on translation issues. This leads us to the first myth about the translation business: the native speaker is infallible. When you start up your own translation business you will soon discover that most customers, especially the more knowledgeable ones, will demand that the translation be done by a native speaker, on the assumption that a native speaker is automatically a good writer. Not so. While there may be over a billion native speakers of English worldwide, only a fraction of them can be relied upon to possess the judgement it takes to decide whether a translation is linguistically sound in a given business context. We should not automatically assume that a native speaker is a good writer in his own language, and even less that he is a good translator. For one thing, translation requires thorough insight into the source language as well as the target language. When you hire translators for your business, you should never forget that while a good translator is usually a native speaker of the target language, not all native speakers are good translators.

The second myth about the translation business has to do with client priorities, and the assumption that more than anything else, clients want quality. People can be excused for taking this myth seriously. Anyone in his right mind would expect that the client’s main concern when engaging a professional translation agency is to get a high-quality translation. Not so. Studies have shown that most clients are in fact more interested in speed than in quality. This is not to say that your client will be pleased to accept any trash as long as he gets it fast; the point is that quality standards in a business context are different from those in an academic context, and may be overshadowed by practical concerns. University students are trained to achieve linguistic perfection, to produce translations formulated in impeccable grammar and a superbly neutral style. Yet the fruits of such training may not be quite to the business client’s taste. In fact, there are probably as many tastes as there are clients. A lawyer will expect you first and foremost to build unambiguous clauses and use appropriate legalese; a machine builder requires technical insight and authentic technical jargon; and the publisher of a general interest magazine needs articles that are simply a good read. What all clients tend to have in common, however, is a reverence for deadlines. After all, when a foreign client has arrived to sign a contract, there should be something to sign; when a magazine has been advertised to appear, it should be available when the market expects it. In a business environment, many different parties may be involved in the production of a single document, which means that delays will accumulate fast and may have grave financial consequences. So, starters should be aware that ‘quality’ equals adaptability to the client’s register and jargon, and that short deadlines are as likely to attract business as quality assurance procedures.

And if you manage to attract business, you will find that the translation industry can be quite profitable, even for business starters. The third myth we would like to negate is that translation is essentially an ad hoc business with very low margins. Not so. Various successful ventures in recent years, for example in the Netherlands and in Eastern Europe, have belied the traditional image of the translator slaving away from dawn till dusk in an underheated attic and still barely managing to make ends meet. It is true that the translation process is extremely labour intensive, and despite all the computerisation efforts, the signs are that it will essentially remain a manual affair for many years to come. Nevertheless, if you are capable of providing high-quality translations, geared to your client’s requirements and within the set deadlines, you will find that you will be taken seriously as a partner and rewarded by very decent bottom line profits.

 

Tips to Do Forecasting For Profits

Forecasting may appear to be difficult at first sight, but with careful thought and realistic assumptions it is surprising how accurate a forecast can be. Not only will a good forecast show up any slippage in your assumptions, it will very quickly allow you to see how efficient your business is operating and reveal areas that can be improved and so increase profit.

One important point to remember is if you find you have made significant errors in your forecast and you discover the error, you can always revise it for the remaining time it has to run.

The income of the business should be comparatively easy to set. It will comprise any revenue coming into the business from various sources. Obviously different businesses have different streams of income, which will include sales of goods or services, commissions, fees, rents, rebates and many other sources of revenue. When compiling a forecast do not fail to take into consideration any known price increases or other factors, including inflation that will affect your income figures. It is a great sense of achievement and encouragement when you see your actual income figures exceed your forecast income figures and your expenditure figures in line with or below your forecast. So try and get it as near right as possible the first time.

When setting the expenditure figures for the business extra care should be taken. This is one of the most difficult forecasts to make. Done realistically and with careful thought it will be of enormous benefit to the business.

What you are endeavouring to do is to forecast as accurately as possible how much money it will cost you to operate your business for the period of the forecast (usually one year), split into monthly segments. This will mean itemising and considering all expenditure, large and small that the business will incur. It is not possible to be absolutely accurate with these forecasts, but with care, realistic figures can be arrived at. Don’t forget to include known increased costs that will be effective at a later date such as taxes, statutory costs, rent increases, wage increases, inflation, seasonal variations and any other known factors. It is always advisable to add a small percentage to the expenditure figures that are likely to fluctuate as a contingency.

Once your expenditure figures have been set and you are satisfied with them make sure that you check your actual costs against your forecast on a regular basis, certainly at least once a month.

By doing this you will be able to see immediately what your expenditure is in each area of forecast and enable you to take remedial action on any serious over expenditure.

It will also show up quickly any shortfall in your income and enable you to determine the reason for the shortfall and take swift action to rectify the situation. It will show up any areas where savings can be made on items of expenditure, for example savings can very often be made by shopping around for outside suppliers of services.